My climate journey started at the beginning of my senior year in high school.
By that time I’d heard of climate change and knew the effects it had on our planet, but I wasn’t formally taught about global warming growing up. Due to the lack of climate education in public schools, it was not something that really crossed my mind.
Before I joined Climate Generation as a policy intern for their youth program, YEA!, there was an extreme drought that hit my home country of Somalia in 2016. I didn’t fully grasp the direct implications that climate change had on my community and loved ones until the Sima drought occured. It was through YEA! that I learned the connection of the worsening of severe droughts to global warming.
The warmer climate in the dry and desert nation made it difficult to grow crops and to find drinkable water. The Sima drought caused outbursts of diseases and thousands of livestock animals to die. This is not only personal to me but to millions of people who experience droughts, hurricanes, and other natural disasters across the world. Although this is a universal issue, it affects poorer communities disproportionately more than others.
During Sima, I felt hopeless and powerless in my home, back in Minnesota because there wasn’t anything I could do to help my people. The only thing I could do was vocalize my concerns to my local lawmakers. Four years later, I’m still fighting because I know climate change will continue to affect my people and my future.
“According to a 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists now have high confidence that for every half degree of warming in the atmosphere, the severity and frequency of droughts will sharply increase. I quickly realized that this internship sparked a lifelong fight and I feel the weight that it’s something that I have the responsibility to fix. Our legislators are not taking the initiative to reduce fossil fuel emissions and hold corporations that are destroying our earth accountable.
It is now at the hands of the younger generation to clean up a mess that we were not alive to make.
It is incredibly difficult and saddening that this is what we have to focus on as a young generation. It’s overwhelming and heartbreaking that there are approximately seven years left to prevent irreversible damage.
At COY16, I intend to work with my peers and bring solutions to help combat this issue. As I’m pushing for youth voices to be heard on a large scale, I’m also hoping that climate change and sustainability can be taught in K-12 schools around the world. This barrier of education inequality has caused a disconnect between the issue of global warming and the opportunity for people making change. If people are not educated on this topic, it’s harder to include everyone in this solution. Education inequality is an issue that should be addressed when speaking about climate change and it’s something that I can relate to experiencing myself.
It has been four years since the drought and my family has slowly regained their health and strength. Although my family in Somalia has recovered from the Sima drought, many other families have not. This is a recurring issue that has possible solutions that are in the hands of lawmakers.